3 Questions to Ask Every PR Job Candidate

As 2018 draws to a close, we turn our sights to the new year and what it will bring: a clean slate, renewed budgets and an increase in job postings.

January and February are considered the best times to apply for a new job, which means if you’re looking for new PR talent you’re likely getting ready to post some new listings in the first few weeks of 2019. So, as you prepare to interview a slew of fresh applicants, here are three questions you should ask every candidate for any Communications position to make sure the person you hire is truly right for the role.

Do you prefer verbal or written communication?

A well-rounded PR candidate should be adept at writing as well as speaking publicly, but since communications roles differ widely these days, a candidate who picks one over the other can still be a valuable asset to the company. You may find an applicant who can craft a killer press release but isn’t so good at delivering a verbal message, or you may meet someone who is a master at building a rapport with journalists but whose writing needs some work.

As Dallea Caldwell of TalkLocal told Forbes, “I need to find out how candidates best communicate, not just which candidate communicates best.” Asking candidates this question and paying close attention to their response can give you a good view of how they will fit into a particular role.

How would you measure the success of a PR campaign?

Measurement has become a key component of the practice of PR and communications, so it’s important to gage your candidate’s knowledge of, and/or willingness to learn about, data and analytics in their work. This is also a good time to determine if they are familiar with dashboards and other types of reporting so they can not only measure the success of a campaign but also convey that success in a meaningful way to the C-suite. Younger candidates can be given a little more leeway with their measurement knowledge, but a seasoned PR pro should have a firm grasp of metrics, KPIs and data.

How would you handle [insert common crisis for your brand or agency]? 

Crises are more common than ever, and with the spread of information over the internet, they pose a greater risk to corporate reputation than in the past. It’s important to make sure any applicant you interview not only understands what’s at stake with a large-scale crisis, but can also keep a cool head and think strategically about how to solve problems under pressure. It’s very likely that they will deal with these problems throughout their tenure at your company, so make sure you address it during the interview and not while a crisis is happening.